Rusted barrel against the garden shed - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS


What is your purpose? Why are you here? Why are any of us here? Those are questions people have asked for as long as people have been around. We need to know why. Why is that? Why does it matter if we have a purpose or not?

Rusted barrel against the garden shed - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Rusted barrel against the garden shed – Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Ecclesiasties 3: 11.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Ecclesiasties is a really interesting book. Hardcore but interesting. It’s one of those books that if you aren’t careful you can very easily take statements out of context because it’s Solomon searching for answers. And in his search for answers, he makes some pretty big mistakes and some pretty grand assumptions about life in general. Not all of them are true. And he learns that at the end, but when he’s in the thick of it all, it’s hard for him to see the truth.

This passage comes briefly after the one where he is stating that there is a time for everything, whether it’s dying or laughing or harvesting or war. And actually the rest of this passage is him pretty much just stating that what God decides is final and there’s nothing we can do about it. And that we can’t know God’s plan, so we might as well make the most out of life.

And I suppose that is true. We are limited in what we know about God’s plans, but we aren’t limited in what we know about God. We know all we need to know about God because the Bible provides that doorway for us. We have access to who God is through Jesus and through the Holy Spirit and through the truth of Scripture.

Knowing who God is makes a world of difference when you’re looking for purpose. I was discussing this with a friend over the weekend. God is orderly. He is organized. He is structured. There is no chaos in Him. So knowing that God is a God of order and purpose means that there is an order and a purpose to all of our lives. Even if we can’t see the end result of that order and purpose, we know it’s there.

I was curious about the statement that God has set eternity in our hearts. That’s beautiful. Quite poetic. But what does it mean? Well, according to the Amplified Bible, it means this: “a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy.”

You’ve heard the phrase that we all have a “God-shaped hole” inside our hearts? That’s what this is. God created each of us with a purpose. But it’s not just an everyday kind of purpose. It’s an eternal purpose. It’s the reason we were made. And an eternal purpose can’t be found outside of God and His plan. And until we embrace God and His Word and the fact that He made us for a reason, we aren’t going to be able to find that purpose. And until we find our purpose, we’re going to keep asking why we’re here.

I think that’s why so many people are lost, wandering around, not knowing who they are or why they matter. How can we know who we are or why we matter if we believe that God isn’t important? Or that He doesn’t exist?

I’m a practical person, objective-focus and goal-oriented. If I didn’t have a purpose, I wouldn’t get out of bed. If I didn’t have a reason to live, I wouldn’t. But I do. And that purpose was given to me by Someone who is orderly and good, and it’s a purpose that will last forever.

I don’t know God’s purpose for your life, but I know His purpose for mine. I’m here to do what He asks me to do. I’m here to live the way the Bible says, and I’m here to bring glory to Him. That’s my purpose. And as many ways as I can bring Him glory, I will, whether it’s through writing or loving others or quietly accepting blame when I don’t deserve it and trusting that He will reveal the truth in time. My purpose is to live for His glory. Every action, every thought, every accomplishment is for Him. And anything I plan to do, if I use it to praise Him, He will use it to help others.

I don’t think there’s anything better than that.

God will work out His plans for us; we just have to hang on

Today’s verse is Psalm 138:8.

8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
      for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
      Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

It’s good to remember that God has plans for our lives. I forget that sometimes and feel like my life is a crazy, screwed up mess. It’s hard to remember that God has a plan when I can hardly get organized enough to keep a schedule together.

I love the Psalms. They just sound like my life. You start the day praising God and then something goes nuts and you end up depressed but then you remember that God is awesome and that He loves you and you end the day joyful again, remembering that God knows what He’s doing. The Psalms are a roller coaster of emotion. God’s always with me. God, why have you abandoned me? God, you make me strong. God, I feel so weak. God, you keep me safe. God, my enemies are attacking me and I am vulnerable. If everyone’s life wasn’t like that, you’d think David was bipolar or something.

But everyone has experienced what David went through. Everybody’s life has turned upside down at one point or another. Everyone has been abandoned and betrayed by friends. Everyone has sometimes wondered where God went (everyone has, so don’t act holy and say you’ve never felt that way). And I know we all wonder just what the heck God is doing. He makes no sense at all most of the time . . . but then I remember that if I could understand God, He wouldn’t be God.

If God revealed all His plans to me, I really believe my head would explode. He’s got a lot in store for me. I can tell you that because He’s given me a lot. He’s given me a wonderful family. He’s given me the best church in America and the most amazing Pastor in the world (who stopped in to see my grandma in the hospital yesterday in spite of having the busiest schedule known to man; I can’t say enough good about my pastor). He’s given me a job. He’s given me a brain that I use most of the time. He’s given me a lot of different skills and talents. And He’s placed me in a country that allows me (at least at this point) to speak my mind about the way I feel about things.

God has given me a lot. So I know that He’s going to ask me for a lot. I grew up with the verse, Luke 12:48. “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”

God has plans for my life. And He’s got plans for your life too, even though it may not feel like it now. What I struggle with the most is feeling like nothing is happening, feeling like all I’m doing is waiting, like the only thing I accomplish in a day is converting oxygen into CO2. But here’s where today’s verse comes in: Do we actually think we’re the ones who accomplish anything?

Today’s verse says God will work out his plans for my life. Not Amy will work them out. God will.

So when it comes right down to it, all I have to do is wait and listen and be ready to move. When God tells me to do something, I need to do it no matter how crazy it might sound because when He asks me to do something it’s going to be a part of His plan for my life. And when I’m moving in tandem with God’s plan, that’s when He can start to accomplish HUGE things that I would never have been able to do on my own.

All I have to do is take it a day at a time. So what is my job today? I’m going to work at my corporate American job. And even if everything falls apart (I’m actually expecting it to because I’ve got a Spanish web site that’s supposed to go live today and I don’t think it’s going to happen), my job is to stay focused on God and living the way He’s called me to live.  And if He opens the door to tell other people about Him, I will walk through it. And if He allows me to help people today, I will. And if I make it home tonight without having accomplishing any of my goals for the day, it will be all right. Becuase in the end, it’s God’s goal that’s the most important and it’s God’s plan that’s going to help people the most. I’m just along for the ride. . . . and, man, what a crazy ride it is!

I’m a pretty intelligent person. If I had to describe myself as either being intelligent or not, I would definitely go for the former. I mean, who actualy wants to be stupid? Maybe some people do. But generally speaking, I don’t think idiocy is something most people aspire to (although, if you watch people drive in Wichita, you might think it is).

I’ve had a broad education too, ranging from city life to country life and somewhere in between. From classical music to the Beatles and traditional hymns to head-banging screamers. I read books by Jane Austen and Stephen King. I like Twilight, and I like John Grisham.

I had a writing teacher, who I really didn’t like, once tell our class that to be a good writer you have to know a little about a lot of different things. And if you don’t know something, you need to research it until you do know about it. I didn’t like the teacher, but I definitely agreed with that little tidbit. So I’ve tried to learn as much as I can about as much as I can.

So sometimes, when I lose focus, it’s super easy for me to start thinking about everything I know and everything I’ve experienced and it’s even easier to start thinking I understand how God is working. That I understand what His plan is. That I know exactly where He’s taking me and what He’s got in store for me.

And that’s often the time when He surprises me.

The verse this morning (I know it’s a Sunday, but I felt an inordinate desire to do a post today) is Ecclesiasties 11:5.

 5 Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb,[a] so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

I know some people will say that we do understand those things now, but for every one thing we understand there are five others that we don’t. And when Solomon wrote this, the wind was a mystery and so was pregnancy. But even Solomon, the wisest and most intelligent man to ever live, realized that there were some things that only God knew.

Do we really think we can understand God? Do we really think we can get into His mind and see what He’s planning and see the big picture He’s painting? I think we actually do. I think we have this idea that we can understand exactly what God wants us to do — or if we don’t know exactly, we think we have a pretty good idea. So when our whole world turns upside down and nothing happens the way we expect it to, we get angry at God. And we demand to know how He could do something so terrible to us when He’s supposed to have good plans for us.

God is doing the best He can with the world we broke. And the plans He has are good but nothing good in this world comes without a price. When it comes to salvation, thankfully, Jesus already paid that price. But when it comes to happiness on earth? Or a comfortable life on earth? Or tons of money or world-renown fame or popularity or success or whatever it is down here that we think God owes us?

I don’t know if any price we can pay will give us any of those things. We might be able to obtain some of them temporarily but achieving something that way won’t last. And I don’t think any of those things are something that God is going to give us while we live down here. At least, not in the form we want them.

It’s very strange that when we start being content with what God has already given us, however, that all those things seem to come along. When you’re content with your life and your possessions and your family, you’ll find that you feel happy. And when you let go of the things you’re clinging too and want the things God wants you to have, you’ll be amazed at how quickly success and achievement follows.

So I try to remember that when my life goes haywire and starts heading in a direction that I wasn’t planning on going that maybe God is just revealing the next step of His plan for me. I could get upset and be angry at Him, but why? What good does that do? It just makes me an angry person and distances me from Him. And I don’t want distance between me and God. I need Him.

So the next time my life goes nuts (it hasn’t happened in a while, so I’m sure it’s coming) — and the next time your life goes nuts (because I guarantee that it will) — remember Ecclesiasties 11:5. God does all things, and we can’t understand why. We just have to trust Him.